Leave it to Bill Marler at Marlerblog and Food Safety News to fill in the informational gaps left by the CDC, FDA, and 10 state health departments, who all know the source of at least 68 Salmonella illnesses in 10 states nationally, but aren’t naming names.  (Question: how many of these 68 victims of the Mexican restaurant Salmonella outbreak know what made them ill?  Do they have a right to know that information?)  No reason has yet been articulated by any of the officials involved in the investigation as to why the restaurant isn’t being named.

Food Safety News and Marlerblog are working on it nonetheless. Here are the possible candidates (many have dropped out of consideration because they did not have restaurant locations in multiple states known to have illnesses in the outbreak):

  • Taco Bell: Multiple locations in every outbreak state.
  • Qdoba: In every outbreak state; Only 1 in Northwest corner of NM (officials from Qdoba have confirmed that they are not retaurant A).
  • Chipotle: In all outbreak states except Tennessee, which has one victim. However, there are locations in 3 of Tennessee’s neighboring states. Only one NM location (officials from Chipolte have confirmed that they are not retaurant A).
  • Del Taco: Locations in all but 3 outbreak states (IA, KS and TN), but Kansas has one right over the border in MO.
  • Taco Del Mar: Not in KS, MO, or TN, but right on TN border with Mississippi.
  • Taco John’s: In all outbreak states but OK, MI, and TN, but one right across TN border in Kentucky.

Food Safety News also reports that somebody may be stepping up to the plate soon:  “Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the outbreak two weeks ago, no federal or state agency yet has revealed the name of the restaurant chain (although, one state epidemiologist indicated that they may announce the restaurant’s name over CDC and FDA objections later this week).”

Dare we say that non-disclosure in this case merely continues a trend that we have seen emerging for some time now?  See Information as Currency in Public Health, by Bill Marler, for more than a few other examples.